November 9, 2002 was a typical day on the campus of Saint John’s University in Collegeville, Minnesota for student Josh Guimond. He woke up, did his homework, went to the library, and met up with friends to attend a poker party. But that night, sometime around midnight, Josh Guimond left a small party without saying a word and was never seen again.
His roommate and best friend came home around 2:45 in the morning and noticed Josh wasn’t home, but it wasn’t until he missed his mock trial practice that his friends became concerned. They reported Josh missing to campus authorities who began to search for him.
There are many missing pieces and theories as to what really happened to Josh Guimond that night.
Did Josh Guimond slip and drown?
Between the housing facilities where Josh lived and the poker party was hosted, was Stumpf lake. To get home, Josh had to cross a footbridge, making the most likely scenario that he may have had too much to drink and fell in.
The last time Josh had scanned into his dorm room was just before he and friends left for the party at 11:06pm. He didn’t have any credit cards on him, and his car was found on campus undisturbed. It was a cold winter night and while he was dressed for the brief walk, his friends reported he wasn’t dressed for staying out in the cold for an extended period of time.
A young couple told authorities that they passed Josh on the footbridge and at some point, when they believe he was roughly halfway across, they looked back, and he was gone.
With no other leads, authorities began searching the lake as the focal point of the investigation until the weather turned too cold and the lake froze over.
Suspicion of foul play in the Guimond case
One of the avenues investigators couldn’t ignore was the possibility of foul play. For one, the footbridge wasn’t exactly easy to simply trip and fall over. At over four feet high and made of solid concrete, it would take considerable effort to get up and over the edge. While it’s possible he jumped, friends and family were adamant that wasn’t the case.
To make matter worse, several other young men on different college campuses in nearby areas had also disappeared in the middle of the night in similar circumstances to Josh. While interviewing people on and around campus, they became aware of a series of incidents that had been plaguing the student body.
Reports of several strange vehicles filled with one or more men following students, harassing them, and otherwise intimidating them started coming to light. In fact, several young men reported being tricked into vehicles, taken to remote areas of the woods, and in several cases assaulted, both physically and sexually. Could Josh have gotten into one of these vehicles and couldn’t escape? Was there one or more men hunting these college students? And did Josh end up a victim of these violent offenders?
The monk abuse scandal
Several months into the investigation, the bodies of the other young men were found, and authorities dismissed any connection between those and Josh. But there was a new avenue investigators were exploring.
Saint John is a private religious campus that has a fully functioning monastery and Abbey on site. Over the years, multiple accusations have come to light accusing the monks of sexual misconduct and abuse.
Josh was angry about the abuse and had vocalized his frustration to his mother and grandparents on multiple occasions. He was disgusted the Abbey would cover it up, allow the accused monks to live on campus, and even go so far as to send them away to protect them from future legal problems. Several people indicated that he was writing a research paper on the subject, but that couldn’t be verified during the initial search of his dorm room and computer.
The family and investigators brought bloodhounds to the campus at one point and his scent was found around the Abbey, but the school and the monks initially refused to allow them inside to track the scent further. Eventually, they were allowed inside and Josh’s scent was found near the back, but without being allowed access to other areas there were no further clues found in or around the Abbey.
Since Josh’s disappearance, more accusations have come forth about the monks and their sexual misconduct. In addition, it is rumored that there are tunnels beneath the monastery leading around campus. Several accusers claim this is where the abuse took place and that it would provide the means to dispose of a body.
New technology unlocks more clues in Josh Guimond’s death
For several years, the case went stagnant. Josh’s body was never found in the lake or surrounding woods. No one came forward with more information, and investigators didn’t uncover any more leads they could explore. At least, not until technology caught up a bit.
Josh had a computer in his dorm room but in 2002, resources were limited in what they could uncover from the computer. His room, along with his computer were left in his dorm room unattended for several days.
When investigators finally did search the computer, they discovered someone had applied an internet washer to the computer. At the time, they had no way of knowing what files or doing any kind of technological forensic analysis on the hard drive. But in 2008, they were able to analyze the hard drive.
The washer didn’t delete any files but had mainly only wiped internet history to a minimal extent. While they never found files on the monk abuse scandal, they did find multiple searches relating to the accusations and legal implications of the abuse. But even more telling, investigators found several user accounts for Yahoo! personal ads and chat rooms.
Was Josh Guimond hiding a secret identity?
As the nature of these profiles and chats became clear, investigators learned that several were of Josh presenting as a woman to men. There was one female profile he used the most, and they found pornographic material that was both heterosexual and homosexual in nature.
One theory is that Josh had set up a meeting that night, and given it appears based on his search and user history that he may have been exploring his sexuality, not told anyone what he planned. It would explain why he left without bringing attention to his departure, and if he got in a car, it could also explain why his scent vanishes in the middle of the footbridge. Neither friends nor family had any suspicions or reason to believe this is the case, but none of them admitted to knowing about the searches or chat room activity, either.
Josh Guimond’s case featured on Season Three of Netflix’s Unsolved Mysteries
This November marks the twentieth anniversary of Josh’s disappearance. His body has never been found, and no one has come forward with more information to help investigators move forward. His case is also featured on the third (and most recent) season of Unsolved Mysteries on Netflix. Additionally, Netflix released bonus material related to the case—including notes from Josh to friends, extra video footage, and police reports.
The hope is that someone will come forward and answer the question that has been haunting Josh’s family, friends, and authorities for two decades: What happened to Josh?